Alaska is well known for its stunning natural beauty and boasts eight National Parks across the state. In addition to these national parks and preserves, Alaska has an abundance of State Parks scattered across the state as well. Now, I understand that ‘State Park’ might not have the same ring as ‘National Park’. You don’t want to overlook these state parks during your next trip.

Being as big as it is, Alaska is generally broken up into five regions:

  • Far North
  • Interior
  • South West
  • South Central
  • South East

Each region has many of its own areas of outstanding beauty. I’ll dedicate one post to each region – today’s focus is on the parks of the South Central region!

South Central Alaska Parks

Chugach State Park: This almost half-million acre park is Anchorage’s backyard and known for hiking, skiing, climbing, rafting, camping, and wildlife viewing. It borders the Alaskan mountain range to the north and west and its namesake, the Chugach mountain range, to the south. This park also borders Prince William Sound and the Wrangell mountains.

Welcome to Homer Sign

Kachemak Bay State Park: Alaska’s first state park was officially established in 1970. Here, you’ll be surrounded by forests, mountains, and ocean waters. Located near Homer and known for some of the best fishing in the world.

Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound: On the Kenai Pennisula, this area of protected waterways is a great place for wildlife watching and recreational water activities.

Historical Mine in Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass Management Area: This huge management area is at the base of the Talkeetna Range. It’s less than 30 minutes from the towns of Palmer and Wasilla. Hatcher Pass is open year round for a range of activities including gold panning in neighboring Independence Mine State Historical Park. In addition, there’s plenty of hiking, berry picking, horseback riding, and winter sports.

Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area: A smaller park just off the Glenn Highway offers great views of the Matanuska Glacier and is the perfect spot for a picnic or overnight camping spot. While you cannot get onto the glacier from this park, our friends at MICA Guides offer various glacier tours.

There’s More to Discover !

This is only a short list of the many outstanding areas you can visit in Alaska’s South Central Region. Many of these areas are equally, if not more, spectacular than the nearby National Parks. I encourage you to support all of your local parks – no matter how big or small!

Just remember to Leave No Trace and respect the wildlife while you are there!